The common way of approaching the teaching of culture in the foreign language classroom is focused on what is known of as a “functional” view of culture. This essentially means that learning about culture means knowing about elements such as what people eat, where they live, what holidays they celebrate and the structure of the government. This knowledge of the culture is a helpful starting point, but we need to take this a step further with our students and teach them how to use this knowledge to engage with the culture. There is more involved in understanding the perspectives that contribute to the behavior of any given cultural group, and you can read more about that in my earlier post, How to “Teach” Culture in a Foreign Language Class.
Knowledge is the first step in engaging with a culture. The ultimate goal is to develop a strong Cultural Intelligence (CQ), which allows us to appropriately and effectively engage with a culture that is different from your own.
To put this all together in simple and cohesive statement, our CQ begins with an interest that motivates us to learn about a culture and we use that knowledge to effectively navigate and interact.